Jazz Concert Features Sax Legend

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Sarada Symonds, Editor-in-Chief

The Jazz program performed in “A Night of Campo Jazz” with guest musician Rick Condit in the Campolindo Performing Arts Center on December 5. The annual concert began at 7:30pm and featured several Jazz compositions.

The night opened with an ensemble, named Combo C, which played Christmas songs while people seated themselves. Combo C included 6 Campo students who practiced outside of school in order to prepare for the concert. “We just picked some Christmas song out of the Christmas reel book that we wanted to do, and practiced outside of school and sometimes at lunch,” Newton Kwan said.

Following Combo C, two other combos made from students in the Jazz program performed. The first combo, the Jazzmanian Devils, played “Nice ‘n’ Easy” by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Keith, and Lew Spence, “Now High on the Moon” by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis, and “Blues for a Purpose” by Tom Kubis.

Next, the Jazztastic Voyage played “Tenor Madness (with a twist)” by Sonny Rollins and “Del Sasser” by Sam Jones.

“We split our class time between working in combos and Big Band,” said Kwan.

Both combos then combined to form the Campo Big Band, which performed 5 songs with guest artist Rick Condit. The original line up was “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein, “Oleo” by Sonny Rollins, “Emergency Stopping Only” by Craig Skeffington, “In a Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington, Irving mills, and Manny Kurtz, and “C-Jam Blues (ala Mambo!)” by Duke Ellington, but the band agreed before the performance to have “Emergency Stopping Only” as their finale.

They also played two short compositions, including the “Flintstones Theme” by Hoyt Curtin, as an example of a contrafact of “I Got Rhythm” by George Gershwin. A contrafact is a musical composition using the same chord progressions as another song, but creating a new melody.

Condit began his career in jazz as a tenor saxophone soloist with the San Kenton Orchestra in 1973. Since then, he has played with several orchestras and won several awards, including a Louisiana Artist Fellowship and a Hall of Fame award. Condit was a colleague of former Campo music director Harvey Benstein and taught current music director Johnny Johnson at New York State University.

Condit has been teaching music for over 30 years, working with many high school, honor, and university bands. He also teaches at the Lafayette Summer Music Workshop, where he met several Campo students and Johnson, who invited him to perform with the group. “I’m always happy to have the opportunity to teach high school students to understand and appreciate jazz music,” Condit said.

Condit met with the Jazz students twice in the morning for practice sessions, as well as a dress rehearsal. He felt that his experience working with the Campo jazz students was great. “They were very attentive and eager to learn, so I enjoyed it very much,” he said.

Johnson felt that working with Condit was an good experience. He also praised the students’ performance. “When you’re performing with a world class player like him, it just raises the level of everyone’s performance,” he said. “Playing jazz is like having a conversation, so the level of their playing throughout the concert, their interactions with each other, led to even better playing than what we normally do.”

“It was fun. I had a really great time, and it sounded really good,” he said. He also enjoyed working with Condit. “Mr. Condit is a really great teacher, saxophonist, conductor,” Kwan said.

Trumpeter Zoe Portnoff also liked working with Condit. “He’s a great musician, and it’s just been amazing getting the opportunity being able to work with someone at that level,” she explained.

Portnoff had a lot of fun at the concert. “It went really well. I think we played some songs the best we’ve ever played,” she said.